A court approved the terms of a settlement agreement in a class action lawsuit, Darling v. Douglas, that challenged California's elimination of Adult Day Health Care (ADHC) as a Medicaid optional benefit. AARP Foundation Litigation attorneys, in conjunction with attorneys from Disability Rights California, National Senior Citizens Law Center, National Health Law Program and the firm of Morrison & Foerster LLP, represented the plaintiffs.
The settlement ensures that critical community based services will be preserved, helping low income seniors and people with disabilities to avoid unnecessary hospitalization or institutionalization. Esther Darling, 74, lead plaintiff in the case, said, "There are a lot of people who really need this program; I have fought to stay out of a nursing home and have been able to with ADHC."
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The settlement agreement resolved the lawsuit that had been filed initially by elderly individuals with disabilities seeking to stop cuts to ADHC services enacted by the legislature. Then in March 2011, over the very strong opposition of AARP California, the legislature voted to eliminate ADHC as an optional Medi-Cal (as Medicaid in California is known) benefit. ADHC is a Medi-Cal funded community-based program for low-income elderly and disabled adults designed to support individuals who live at home or in licensed residential care facilities to avoid unnecessary hospitalization or placement in nursing homes or other institutions. Many people who depend on ADHC services have family caregivers who would be unable to continue to support their loved one at home without the medical monitoring, therapy and other supports they receive at the center.
Plaintiffs sought to block the elimination of ADHC unless adequate replacement services were in place, asserting that the elimination would place them at risk of unnecessary institutionalization and violate their rights under the federal Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), Rehabilitation Act, Medicaid Act, the due process clause of the U.S. Constitution and state laws.
Twice before, the court issued preliminary injunctions to halt proposed cuts because they placed people at risk of institutionalization in nursing facilities and hospitals and was about to hear a third request for an injunction when the case settled. The now approved settlement covers the entire case and the state's appeal of the second injunction to the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals will be withdrawn.